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Driver safety is a critical issue, especially for fleet drivers who constantly interact with the public at large and spend considerable amounts of time on the road, often in large vehicles that can pose added safety risks. Simply put, driver safety—and effective driver safety programs—are a matter of public responsibility. A couple of safety statistics to consider:
- According to the US EPA, smart driving such as gentle acceleration and braking can improve fuel economy by up to 33% and save more than $1 per gallon.
- Increasing speed by five to eight miles per hour increases fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.
Let’s explore five steps to set up a successful driver safety program and sustain it for the long term.
Create a safety-first culture
Unsafe driving behaviors endanger the lives of everyone on the road, and creating a safety-first culture depends on identifying key behaviors and correcting them.
A few examples of dangerous driving behaviors include:
- Speeding, which accounts for 26% of all traffic fatalities in the United States (NHTSA)
- Failing to wear a seat belt. Almost half of all driver fatalities are due to speeding and the failure to wear a seatbelt. (NHTSA)
- Tailgating or following another driver too closely
Aggressive and unsafe driving behaviors put the lives of everyone on the road at risk. These behaviors include:
- Running red lights
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Cutting off another driver and then slamming on the brakes
Engaging in safe driving behavior is the best way to prevent accidents. Encourage drivers to:
- Limit distractions
- Never drive while tired or under the influence
- Stay aware of their surroundings at all times
- Obey all traffic laws
- Stay a safe distance behind the cars in front of them
By focusing on achieving the right safety culture, drivers and employees will learn to do the right and safe thing as a matter of choice.
Establish the right metrics
There are hundreds of metrics that fleets can monitor and then report on, from individual driver behaviors to organization-wide KPIs. The challenge is to identify the specific metrics that will promote safe driving and reduce the risk of accidents.
The CSA program BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) are a good starting point in establishing driving performance KPIs and can be further customized to suit your specific fleet. For example, if you operate an over-the-road trucking fleet, you might want to focus on HOS factors. If you are a plumbing or electrical service provider, you should consider more field service-specific KPIs.
After deciding what driver safety metrics are important to your fleet and what you will be measuring, it's time to establish a policy around driver management performance. A policy that uses the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-bound) technique can help to positively influence driving style and traffic safety across your fleet of vehicles.
A complete fleet management solution can provide data that is focused on drivers and human factors, not just on vehicles. Data from driver management software can be used to help prevent motor vehicle crashes, that can lower the cost of repairs due to accidents, helps prevent injuries and fatalities, improves fuel efficiency and reduce insurance premiums.
After implementing a fleet management solution the next step is for fleet managers to create a safe driving program that can help to hold drivers to a company-wide safety standard. A driver safety program can be easily implemented if it has leadership behind it, but getting employees involved is critical to success.
An employee incentive program is a great way to encourage safety and help make the most out of your fleet tracking solution. Here are a few examples of cost-effective and easy driver incentives:
- Employee of the month: The employee of the month could be the driver with the best overall score, based on minimal idling, few speeding violations and no incidents.
- Extra vacation day: Raffle off an extra vacation day for those who qualify. Set an idling maximum and those drivers who meet the requirements can be entered to win.
- Pizza party: Set an idling maximum for the whole team. If the team makes it under the wire, throw a pizza party at the end of the month.
- Get creative: You know your drivers best, and that means you know what will motivate them the best.
Use stats to keep score
Once your drivers are incentivized to stay safe, you can establish driver “scorecards” to monitor key safety statistics. A driver scorecard works by providing key information specific to driver behavior in a clear and understandable way via a dashboard view. Factors monitored and reported by a driver scorecard can include:
- After-hours mileage
- Hard braking
- Hard acceleration
- Excessive speeding vs. posted speed limit
- Seat belt utilization
Fleets that utilize this data have shown immediate and substantial reductions in alerts pertaining to key safety factors, as well as reductions in accidents, driving violations and complaints from the public. Scorecards are also a great form of preventative driver coaching; identifying and curbing risky behavior proactively can help reduce the likelihood of future incidents.
Encourage healthy competition
Real-time data and feedback can also be used to power gamification methods, which can drive better employee performance and be used to improve levels of participation and engagement.
Leveraging the inherent desire to compete, either with themselves or others, gamification can drive employee engagement as measured by key metrics and KPIs. This helps with rewarding and incentivizing employees to change behaviors. In the commercial driving space, gamification can be used to improve fuel efficiency and ROI—as well as to improve safety through the use of competition-based incentives aimed at safe driving behaviors.
Put your safe driving program on the fast track
By taking a focused approach to building a safe driving program with these five steps, you can build a successful driver safety program that extends across your entire fleet.
As you get your driver safety program up and running, keep these things in mind:
- No two people are exactly alike, and neither are drivers. Help improve safety driver-by-driver with specific data about the driving habits of your fleet.
- Big, sweeping change is hard to achieve and even harder to sustain. Small acts, on the other hand, can add up to big change. Take a similar approach to build a safety culture one driver at a time.
- Your fleet is the most visible representation of your company in the community. Helping promote the safety of your drivers extends to the community where they work and works to protect your company’s image at the same time.